COP27 Action Tracker: Egypt criticised for ‘extortionate’ accommodation costs as Buckingham Palace welcomes policymakers
This regular series from edie provides a temperature check on global climate action from nations, businesses and other non-state organisations ahead of COP27. Read our final edition here.
Taking place in Sharm-El-Sheikh this November, from the 6th to the 17th, COP27 is a major event in the diary for anyone in the sustainability space.
At COP26 in Glasgow last year, nations collectively agreed to update their Paris Agreement commitments within 12 months and signed a new text, the Glasgow Climate Pact – the first from any COP to explicitly mention fossil fuels.
Much has changed since then.
edie has, therefore, launched this COP27 Action Tracker – a regular round-up of the policy and business preparations being made here in the UK and across the world. Read on for our fifth and final edition, covering the latest from Egypt, the UK and elsewhere.
- 91% of global GDP now covered by net-zero commitments
- 30 nations have submitted Paris Agreement NDCs
- 3,984 companies signed up to implementing science-based emissions targets
- 1,902 companies with verified science-based emissions targets
- Family of Briton on hunger strike in Egyptian prison call for his release during COP27
- Rishi Sunak has ‘seen sense’ on COP27, say environmentalists
- Brazil’s Lula to send reps to COP27 after election win
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was widely criticised in environmental circles, including by COP26 President Alok Sharma, for initially declining an invitation to COP27. Following in the footsteps of predecessor Liz Truss, Sunak stated that it was important to him to prioritise domestic policymaking to steady the economy.
On Wednesday (2 November), Sunak announced that he had changed his mind. He wrote on Twitter: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables. That is why I will attend COP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”
The decision came after Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister during COP26, publicly stated that he would like to be present in Egypt. Representatives of Labour and the Green Party have stated that Sunak’s failure to attend until he felt “forced” to do so was “embarrassing”.
Green groups are now urging Sunak to ensure that he does not attend merely for the sake of appearances, but to ensure that the UK shows genuine leadership and pushes for an ambitious treaty. For example, Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner Rachel Kennerley said: “Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to attend the summit is a welcome step, but he must back it up with bold government action. This must include rejecting a new coal mine in Cumbria, ending UK funding for a hugely damaging gas project in Mozambique, and committing more money to poorer nations on the frontlines of a crisis they have done the least to cause.”
Sunak was one of around 200 people to attend Buckingham Palace this afternoon (4 November) for a pre-COP27 meeting hosted by the King. The King will not be attending in person despite his reputation for past climate work and his attendance at COP26, due to a “mutual agreement” between the Palace and Government. In attendance at the palace were politicians, campaigners, business leaders and others, including key figures from his Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI).
Around 30,000 people have now registered to attend COP27, according to the UN. Egypt has stated that it is preparing for up to 40,000 to attend. Many delegations have already arrived to get settled in ahead of the conference.
The COP27 President’s Special Representative Wael Abdulmagd has spoken today (4 November) urging attending national delegations to match their talk in public with their behavior in negotiating rooms. He told The Guardian that the time for empty commitments is over and that he will be frustrated if parties move to water-down agreements at the last minute. Additionally, there has not been the last-minute surge in Nationally Determined Contributions submissions that some had been hoping for.
Concerns also persist about the organisation of the summit. The Independent has run a feature including interviews with youth climate activists and representatives of NGOs from the Global South, who have spoken about practical challenges attending. They have discussed how extremely high flight and accommodation prices, long waiting times for complicated accreditation processes and last-minute cancellations have made attending challenging. This is not to mention the fear of arrest for protests and demonstrations. Greta Thunberg has confirmed that she will not be present in Egypt.
Outside of Egypt specifically, the UN has this week published its latest Adaptation Gap report. The report reveals that 84% of nations involved in climate diplomacy through the UN now have a national adaptation plan. However, the quality of these plans varies widely. The report also confirms that global financing flows for adaptation activities remain insufficient; it recommends at least a fivefold increase in finance to developing nations this decade and up to a tenfold increase.
And, in the private sector, the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders has released its official statement on COP27 with calls to action for other corporates and policymakers. The Alliance, comprising more than 120 executives, wants to see all companies setting science-based emissions goals and contributing to internationally harmonized sustainability reporting standards. It is also calling for greater collaboration and more engagement with trade associations and industry bodies to reduce anti-climate corporate lobbying.
The statement calls on world leaders to scale climate finance by using levers such as blended finance and public procurement; to simplify permitting and development processes for low-carbon projects; to assess their energy incentives; to clarify future carbon pricing plans and to produce robust plans for skills and education.
Words of wisdom
“It’s a natural reaction to approach these sorts of summits with cynicism and to brace yourself for disappointment, but I urge you to put away your pessimism: it won’t do us any good. Forget tempering your hope with realism, try tempering your realism with hope. This is a battle in which humanity still has everything to play for, and one we dare not lose.”
Paul Polman, business leader and campaigner; former CEO of Unilever